How to Test Your Email's Functionality

Three ways to troubleshoot email that's acting up

Laptop computer with cable forming a n envelope

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Not getting messages you expected? Others not getting messages you sent, or not seeing your formatting correctly? An email address is worth nothing if it isn't working, but how do you find out if it's operational? Use one or all of the methods listed here to test your email program, SMTP server, and email address.

Method #1: Send Yourself Mail

The first and easiest way to verify that your address is usable is to send yourself an email message from the same address. Be aware, however, that the effectiveness of this method is limited. Email services and servers may bypass much of the email delivery process for messages to recipients at the same server.

Method #2: Sign up for Free Email

You can also send yourself a message from a different email address if you have more than one. If you don't, it's easy and free to set one up with services such as Google and Yahoo.

When you have an email address from another, independent server, send a message from it to the one you're testing. The caveat here is that, unless you already have a secondary email address, it might be more trouble than it's worth to set one up.

Method #3: Use an Echo Email Processor

Echo mailers provide a testing solution that's both elegant and practical. A message sent to an echo mailer is bounced (or echoed) back to where it originated. The message contains some system information, then the complete original email with all header lines in the body, making it easy to spot possible errors or oddities.

Echo mailers include: